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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: Multi-line/multi-coin slots welcome all wallets

25 September 2009

Dear Mark: I like to play multiple line slot machines in AC, but it seems the amount I bring to the casino does not lend itself to these type machines. I am a 25-cent machine player with usually $200 to play with for four hours. I seem to run out of money before the four hours elapse, so my question is, is the amount I bring large enough, or am I playing the wrong machines? Rachel B.

What you failed to mention, Rachel, is just how many coins we're talking about per spin? Five, nine, 50? It makes a big, big difference.

Now, if you were a typical slot player on a 3-coin quarter machine, pushing the spin button every 10 seconds, wagering 75 cents per push, you'd be betting $4.50 a minute, or $270 an hour. Since the average quarter machine returns approximately 92% to the player, over the long run, you'd be losing around $22 for every hour of play. A four-hour session, Rachel, is going to cost you, on average, $88. Your stated bankroll of $200 should get you through.

However, playing these multi-line/multi-coin machines is something like playing on separate machines all at once, since all the lines and payouts operate independently, and each line wants its share of your quarters. The problem I see with your bankroll of just $200 is that not only could you be vastly underfunded, but also your average bets may be much larger than they seem.

Sure, you can play a quarter game for a single quarter, but the majority of players bet all the paylines. Bet one quarter on each of nine paylines, and you're betting $2.25 a spin, which is much more than betting three quarters at a time on a reel-spinner. Bet five coins per line on a nine-line quarter game, and you're betting $11.25 every yank of the handle, making you a $5 machine player, and not the 25-cent player you believe you are.

A $200 bankroll, Rachel, isn't enough for an ever-hungry multi-coin/multi-line quarter monster even if you're betting just nine quarters per spin. Using that 92% return as an example, your bankroll falls $60 short for four hours play. Wager five coins per line on a nine-line quarter game, and — though you may have come to Atlantic City in your $25,000 car, you might go home in somebody else's $250,000 vehicle, a Greyhound bus.

The reason the casinos are putting in multi-line/multi-coin quarter machines is because players like you just love them. But you don't have to play them. You could amuse yourself on a 3-coin quarter machine instead; nor do you have to play every line if you do favor them. One way to stretch your bankroll is to play fewer than the maximum lines allowed. On most machines you only give up a little bit in hit frequency, and nothing in long-term payback.

Dear Mark: Recently on a craps game, I had $100 on the pass line and $200 odds. The shooter clearly rolled an eight, the point, but the boxman yelled out something like "no roll." The next roll was a seven and I lost the $300. What gives him the right to call the roll off, when I clearly would have won? Matt R.

When the boxman supervising a craps game invalidates a roll, it's called "no dice." Usually this happens when one or both of the dice fail to cover much distance, they bounce off the game, a player tries to slide them, or the dice do not land flat.

I've sat box, Matt, and I can tell you that in a fast and furious game like craps, a boxman needs to make split-second decisions that won't always be favorable to you, the player. Without being there to eyeball the event, I'll just have to speculate that the boxman who made the call either thought it wasn't a legal toss, or one of the dice after landing was tilted at an angle in such a way that it wouldn't clearly distinguish it as the number you were looking for.

Unfortunately, Matt, even though you thought it looked like an eight, you got a "no dice" call, then the seven, cinco dos, adios.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "Wine loved I deeply, dice dearly." --William Shakespeare, King Lear

Recent Articles
Best of Mark Pilarski
Mark Pilarski

As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.